Humza Yousaf has won the SNP leadership contest and is set to be named as Scotland’s new first minister, replacing Nicola Sturgeon.
The explosive leadership contest was sparked following Ms Sturgeon’s shock resignation last month.
Lorna Finn, the SNP’s national secretary, said the total turnout in the leadership election was 70% with 50,490 of the SNP’s 72,169 members casting a ballot.
Sturgeon’s replacement promises independence – follow live updates
For first preferences in the single transferrable vote system, Mr Yousaf took 24,336 (48%), Kate Forbes took 20,559 (40%) and Ash Regan took 5,599 (11%) of the vote.
When second preferences were distributed in the second stage, Mr Yousaf took 26,032 (52%) and Ms Forbes took 23,890 (48%).
Following his win, Mr Yousaf said: “Leadership elections, by their very nature, can be bruising.
“However, in the SNP we are a family.
“Over the last five weeks we may have been competitors or supporters of different candidates.
“We are no longer team Humza, or team Ash, or team Kate, we are one team.
“We will be the team, we will be the generation, that delivers independence for Scotland.”
Mr Yousaf will now face a vote at Holyrood on Tuesday before being formally confirmed as first minister.
Any MSP from any party can also be nominated for the vote. Following brief speeches, MSPs will then vote for their preferred candidate.
In the unlikely event of the Scottish Parliament not being able to elect a first minister within 28 days, an election will be held.
After Ms Sturgeon announced her intention to step down, Mr Yousaf, Ms Forbes and Ms Regan, who have all been ministers in the outgoing first minister’s cabinet, entered the race for the top job.
The leadership contest featured rows over religious beliefs, arguments about the recollection of past events, and widespread criticism of secrecy surrounding the vote.
The contest also led to a number of other resignations, including that of Ms Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell as SNP chief executive.
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‘I feel like the luckiest man in the world’
Mr Yousaf faces a number of difficult challenges as he takes office.
Key priorities will include defining a clear plan for independence, how to progress with the controversial gender recognition reforms, tackling the country’s drug deaths shame, alleviating the cost of living crisis, and turning the NHS around.
Mr Yousaf said: “I feel like the luckiest man in the world to be standing here as leader of the SNP. A party I joined almost 20 years ago and that I love so dearly.”
Mr Yousaf recalled how his grandparents had moved from the Punjab to Scotland more than six decades ago.
He said: “As immigrants to this country, who knew barely a word of English, they could not have imagined in their wildest dreams that their grandson would one day be on the cusp of being the next first minister of Scotland.”
Prior to the leadership vote, Mr Yousaf said if elected as first minister he will be a leader for “all of Scotland”.
He added: “I will work every minute of every day to earn and re-earn your respect and your trust.
“I will do that by treating you, the people of Scotland, with respect.
“There will be no empty promises or easy soundbites when the issues in front of us are difficult and complex.
“Because government is not easy and I won’t pretend that it is.”
Following her defeat, Ms Forbes congratulated her colleague.
She said: “I’ve been proud to share a platform with both him and Ash over the last five weeks, and I know we will continue to work together, to make the lives of all of Scotland’s people better on the next stage of our journey to independence.
“Whatever the robust disagreements or frank exchanges of the last few weeks, I am confident we will unite behind Humza as our new party leader in the shared and common objective of independence.
“Uniformity is not unity – we can debate and disagree well, and then work together. To end poverty. To speak up for the marginalised. To create better jobs. To serve our people.
“I wish Humza well as he does just that.”
Ms Regan also congratulated Mr Yousaf.
She added: “It was a lively contest, I wish him well and I back him as he leads our party – and I would encourage everyone to get behind team SNP.”
Ms Sturgeon paid tribute to the three candidates.
She added: “Most of all I congratulate Humza Yousaf and wish him every success.
“He will be an outstanding leader and first minister and I could not be prouder to have him succeed me.”
‘The SNP do not have the answers’
Sir Keir Starmer also sent his congratulations.
He tweeted: “Congratulations to Humza Yousaf – the first first minister of an ethnic minority background is a significant moment for Scotland.”
But the Labour Party leader added: “The SNP do not have the answers on the NHS or on the cost of living crisis. Only Labour can provide the change that Scotland needs.”
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross also congratulated Mr Yousaf.
But he added: “As the main opposition party, we will hold Humza Yousaf to account when he lets the Scottish people down.
“Unfortunately, we have serious concerns about his ability. For the good of Scotland, we hope he does not lurch from failure to failure as he did when he was Nicola Sturgeon’s health secretary, justice secretary and transport minister.
“Humza Yousaf’s election as leader shows that the SNP government are moving further and further away from the real priorities of the Scottish people to obsess over independence.
“The Scottish Conservatives will continue to focus on the issues that matter to people across the country, such as strengthening our economy, supporting our struggling NHS and helping families with the global cost of living crisis.”
However, the Scottish Greens unanimously announced their support for Mr Yousaf and will continue with the Bute House Agreement.
Party co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “This overwhelming endorsement of our arrangement will allow us to continue with the progressive, collaborative politics we know can help deliver a fairer, greener and more equal Scotland for all.”
Co-leader Lorna Slater added: “Climate justice and equality are at the heart of our shared vision, and we are delighted to be working with Humza Yousaf on delivering on our shared cooperation agreement.”
Gove jokes about winning margin
Michael Gove, the communities and levelling up secretary, congratulated Mr Yousaf and joked in the Commons: “It has been noted that he won by the margin of 52% to 48%, so I hope that SNP colleagues will agree there is no need for another vote.”
When questioned on Mr Yousaf’s push for independence, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson said: “I think you know our well-established position.
“Reducing inflation, dealing with the cost of living, tackling backlogs, those are the issues the public care about. That’s what the government will be focused on.
“More broadly, you’ve heard the levelling up secretary congratulate Humza Yousaf on his election as leader of the Scottish National Party, and of course, the prime minister looks forward to working with him in the future.”